On March 1, 2023, Ryan Hope was sworn in as Judge in the State Court of Athens-Clarke County. The appointment by Governor Kemp fills a vacancy created by the resignation of former State Court Senior Judge Ethelyn Simpson due to retirement at the end of 2022.
Judge Ryan Hope has served as Judge of the Municipal Court of Athens-Clarke County since his appointment to that position by former Mayor Nancy Denson in February of 2017. He was reappointed to that position in 2019 and 2021 by Mayor Kelly Girtz. All three appointments were unanimously approved by the Athens Clarke County Commission.
"This is not a responsibility I take lightly and I'm very excited to have been given this opportunity," says Hope. "I've worked my entire legal career in public service to the Athens community as a public defender, prosecutor, and judge. It's been very important to me in my work as a judge that the community knows that those who come into my courtroom are going to be treated with dignity, understanding, and compassion. As a State Court Judge, I will work hard every single day to make that vision a reality and to make the residents of Athens-Clarke County proud of how the ACC State Court operates."
In the Municipal Court Judge role, Hope has been responsible for all court proceedings and operations in the Municipal Court of Athens-Clarke County, which has jurisdiction over traffic offenses, ordinance offenses, and certain misdemeanor cases. He also sits by designation as both a State Court Judge in the State Court of Athens-Clarke County and as a Superior Court Judge, assisting Chief Superior Court Judge Eric Norris as the backup Judge for the Western Judicial Circuit Treatment and Accountability Court.
Prior to his Municipal Court appointment, Hope previously served for 10 years as Chief Assistant Solicitor in the Solicitor General's Office of Athens-Clarke County. Prior to that, he worked for six years as a public defender for the UGA Legal Aid Clinic and the Western Judicial Circuit Public Defender Office. Throughout his legal career, Judge Hope has been heavily involved in the local accountability courts. He served as a team member for the Athens-Clarke County DUI/Drug Court as both a public defender and as Chief Assistant Solicitor. As Chief Assistant Solicitor, Judge Hope was a team member of the Western Circuit Treatment and Accountability Court and the Western Circuit Veteran's Court.
Hope received his J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Georgia. He is active in his community, serving as a board member for Timothy Road Elementary School PTO, board president for People Living in Recovery, and Treasurer for the Council of Municipal Court Judges. He and his wife Caron McDonald Hope reside in Athens with their two children.
At the Regular Session voting meeting on March 7, 2023, the Mayor and Commission approved a resolution appointing Hope as temporary part-time Municipal Court Judge and part-time Administrative Hearing Officer. The appointment will allow Hope and other State Court Judges to rotate schedules and preside over Municipal Court proceedings until a new Municipal Court Judge is recommended by Mayor Kelly Girtz and approved by the Athens-Clarke County Commission.